Train drivers set for fifth walkout in Sheffield pensions dispute

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TRAIN drivers were due to walk out today for a fifth time in a dispute over pensions changes.

East Midlands Trains was running a skeleton service on its Sheffield to London route.

Meanwhile, its Liverpool to Norwich service through Sheffield - one of two main services to and from Manchester - was not running.

The company has criticised the negotiating team from drivers’ union ASLEF for rejecting its proposals to resolve the dispute in a meeting last week without first consulting with drivers.

The strike is over plans by EMT to reduce the amount of money paid into the drivers’ pension pot by the company and employees because it is ‘overcapitalised’ according to independent experts.

The company says the change will have no impact on the value of pensions.

Clare McCartney, EMT human resources, said: “Drivers are asking us why their union is denying them the right to decide on our proposals to resolve this strike over nothing.

“We have never understood why train drivers were being encouraged by ASLEF to strike for less pay. At the same time, drivers are being misled by ASLEF into losing a further £200 a day each time they walk out.

“Our proposals would increase the take-home pay for our employees, and increase their pension benefits. Instead of keeping its members in the dark, ASLEF should be honest about our proposals and let drivers decide.”

ASLEF said East Midlands Trains’ proposals outlined in the talks were no different from the original plans and says the strike has ‘solid support’ from drivers with more than 90 per cent voting in favour in the strike ballot.

The union claims the rail firm is ‘simply looking to cut costs’.

A sixth strike is planned for Thursday.